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Cancer patients 'need to know exercise benefits'


Most cancer patients (75%) believe their doctor or nurse failed to talk to them about the recovery benefits of physical activity.

Research by Macmillan Cancer Support highlighted the issue and revealed that a third of cancer patients are less physically active post-treatment despite evidence it is “vital” for the recovery process.

Out of the 1,495 adults questioned for the survey, 32% said they were less active after treatments, 52% were about the same and 15% were now doing more exercise than before.

A recent Macmillan report, called Move More, revealed that bowel cancer patients could cut risks of recurrence and death by around 50% by doing six hours of exercise a week.

Results also demonstrated that breast cancer patients can cut the risks by up to 40% if they completed 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of treatment and disease side effects, such as depression, fatigue, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “This is clear evidence that there is a need for a culture change within the NHS, to prioritise discussing physical activity and providing the relevant services during and after cancer treatment.


Readers' comments (6)

  • Perhaps the said nurses didn't know about the benefits of exercise to cancer patients. They do their best for people suffering from cancer, so perhaps the solution would be to emphasise the benefits through extra training rather than just say oh, the nurses din't tell the patients that exercise would help them. Be positive and proactive rather than focussing on the negative; there's enough negatively around as it is.

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  • I am an Exercise Physiologist who specializes in treating cancer patients with exercise-based interventions in Canada. Sadly, many patients do not get told any information regarding exercise or physical activity whilst in hospital.

    As a Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist, my advice is:
    Exercise will help most cancer patients but it has to be prescribed the correct way as it can also be a major stress on the body. When providing general recommendations, movement should be encouraged as much as possible (e.g. walking, range of motion activities).

    For more specific guidelines, patients should seek the advice of a suitably trained fitness professional (Exercise Physiologist or Kinesiologist) with a certification in cancer & Exercise training.

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  • I am not sure what kind of trained professionals there are who specialise in exercise needs of cancer patients in the UK?

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  • There are quite a few around, it is just normally a little hard to find them. (I searched for exercise physiologist & cancer & uk).

    Here are some links that list professionals (UK based)that have done cancer exercise specialist courses:

    And here is a link to a course I have only heard good things about that health professionals can do

    I hope that helps.

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  • exercisephysiologist | 12-Jan-2012 4:52 am

    many thanks.

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  • exercisephysiologist | 12-Jan-2012 4:52 am

    these are mainly in the US and as I said it doesn't seem to be a well known profession in the UK . Maybe you have identified a need here.

    I am not working in this domain but as a generalist it is useful to have information to pass on at one's fingertips.

    I suspect there are voluntary groups which are run locally, some possibly by cancer specialist nurses themselves and some by physios and many by amateurs but patients need professional guidance on the availability and accessibility of such exercise training which should be available nationwide and nurses need information they can pass on.

    Like much healthcare in Britain, services are affected by tight budgetary constraints, and such services and information given about them is often very patchy.

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